CHESHIRE -- The ball was hit deep in the hole. Logan Rumbolt showed off his range, tracking the ball to the edge of the outfield grass before diving to corral it.
"There was never any doubt with his glove," Drury coach Al Marceau said. "We knew it last year."
There wasn't time to get Hoosac Valley's John Lewis at first, but that doesn't detract from the play the freshman shortstop made on the ball. By knocking the ball down on the infield, he ensured Justin Nichols wouldn't be greedy and try to go first to third on the single in a 1-1 game. With a passed ball a few pitches later, it may have saved a run in the fourth inning. It's those plays that help win games, as the Blue Devils did Monday against the Hurricanes, 5-1.
As clean as he looks in the field, it's the aspect of his game he's trying to become more comfortable with.
"A little bit more fielding, get comfortable with the throw a little bit," he said. "But I feel comfortable batting, hitting the ball."
He'll have ample time to do that, as it appears he'll be staying put. He's made five errors in six games, but Marceau hasn't lost confidence, knowing there will be growing pains.
The coach thought he had a shortstop before the season, but it didn't pan out. He was considering Rumbolt at second base until his arm strengthens and maybe bouncing between junior varsity and varsity. He's squashed those thoughts and played himself into the role, in large part because he is solid with the glove and has a high baseball IQ.
"I talked to him first night and he was like ‘yeah, whatever you want,' and just went out there and earned it," Marceau said. "He's played a good shortstop for a freshman, a lot of pressure out there up the middle.
"My pitchers give a lot of ground balls."
He nearly made the same play in the hole an inning later, but had the ball glance off the tip of his glove.
Playing shortstop comes with its own set of pressures, the biggest being the captain of the infield. But that pressure and all the others have been reduced because he's playing with a couple other underclassmen.
"It helps a little bit, but the seniors keep our heads in it," he said. "If we don't make our plays, then they know a freshman's starting, so it's all right."
He also showed poise at the plate, especially in his first at-bat. He tried to lay a bunt down in the first inning to advance Kareen Beckett to second, but failed to do so. He proceeded to rip a two-strike pitch into left field for a solid single. The failed bunt attempts have not been commonplace for the freshman.
"He does a lot right at the plate, got a lot of big bunts down for us," Marceau said.
Rumbolt finished Monday's game 1 for 3 with a walk and reached on an error in the seventh. He's batting .368 (7 for 19) with a double, triple and an RBI. He's also stolen six bases, including third in Monday's game.
Stats like that will surely keep him at shortstop, and Marceau likes the idea of having a four-year starter at short.
"He doesn't want to play anywhere else," Marceau said. "He doesn't ever want to be a pitcher. It's nice because he just wants to play shortstop. Perfect."
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